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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

E-Mails!!1!: There Was No There There

Guess what the result of the FBI "reopening" the e-mails investigation a few days before the election:

The FBI told a federal judge that it needed to search a computer to resume its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server because agents had found correspondence on the device between Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin — though they did not have any inkling what was being discussed, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The documents, made public Tuesday after a Los Angeles lawyer sued for their release, reinforce the impression that when the bureau revealed less than two weeks before the election that agents were again investigating Clinton, they had no new evidence of actual wrongdoing. The FBI’s revelation upended the presidential campaign, and to this day, Clinton and her supporters say it is at least partly to blame for her surprising loss to Donald Trump.

There's more at HuffPo:

The warrant connected to the FBI search that Hillary Clinton says cost her the election shouldn’t have been granted, legal experts who reviewed the document released on Tuesday told The Huffington Post.

FBI Director James Comey shook up the presidential race 11 days before the election by telling Congress the agency had discovered new evidence in its previously closed investigation into the email habits of Clinton, who was significantly ahead in the polls at the time.

When Comey made the announcement, the bureau did not have a warrant to search a laptop that agents believed might contain evidence of criminal activity. The FBI set out to rectify that two days later, on Oct. 30, when agents applied for a warrant to search the laptop, which was already in the FBI’s possession. The FBI had seized the computer as part of an investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The unsealed warrant “reveals Comey’s intrusion on the election was as utterly unjustified as we suspected at time,” Brian Fallon, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said on Twitter Tuesday.

Read this whole article -- it gets worse. Much worse.

Via Dibgy, who notes:

I know that it's considered whining to be concerned about this but seriously, we should be concerned about this. The FBI is the most powerful domestic intelligence and police agency in the country. In the world, actually. It's really a big deal if they interfere in democratic elections. In fact, it's the mark of authoritarian states.

The problem with the warrant really is beside the point. They didn't seek the warrant until after Comey had dropped his bombshell. If they hadn't gotten the warrant it's unlikely it would have made any different. Comey had already tainted the election in the final stretch and it wouldn't have helped. Still, it's outrageous all on its own that this warrant application was "garbage" and that James Comey almost certainly had to have approved it.

If Comey simply "made a mistake" then he should be removed from office because that level of bad judgement means he is incapable of doing the job. If he did this in order to head off Giuliani's pro-Trump FBI agents leaking to the media, then he's lost control of his agency and he also needs to be removed. (And again, it would show monumental bad judgement since a notice coming from the FBI director would be far more damaging than any anonymous leaks to the press from rogue FBI agents. ) And then there's the fact that Comey may have taken the action he did for straight up political purposes. He was deputy counsel for the Republican Senate Whitewater Committee which leaked like a sieve and was outrageously partisan. He should be fired for that.

Whatever James Comey's motives, his actions and that of his agents who seemed to be working on behalf of Donald Trump should be investigated, just as the alleged Russian hacking must be investigated. (Indeed, his unwillingness to put his weight behind a bipartisan statement about the Russian hacking merits an investigation of its own.) This was a world-changing event.

I said at the time it was Comey playing politics. We got a good sense of where he was coming from in July, when he called a press conference to announce that the FBI had found nothing actionable in its investigation -- while taking the opportunity smear Clinton as much as he could. The maddening thing about this is that, in spite of flouting normal procedure, a direct advisory from the Attorney General, and quite possibly violating the Hatch Act, Comey will face no consequences.

And let me add that I think Digby's concerns about the role of the FBI in this whole debacle are fully justified, and only exacerbated by the news that Trump plans to maintain his own private security even after he's sworn in.

Welcome to post-democracy America.

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